Protests erupt after death of Daunte Wright, 20-year-old Black man shot by police during traffic stop: What we know

A curfew was lifted early Monday in a Minnesota city where protests erupted the night before after the family of a 20-year-old Black man said he was shot by police before getting back into his car and later crashing several blocks away.

Daunte Wright’s death in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, comes as Minneapolis, just 10 miles south, was already on edge in the middle of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd.

Wright died Sunday after a traffic stop. A woman who identified herself as Wright’s mother, according to a Facebook Live video, said her son was pulled over due to air fresheners hanging in his rearview mirror. Police in Brooklyn Center said in a statement the driver they pulled over had an outstanding warrant and got back into the vehicle when they tried to take him into custody.

Police responded Sunday with riot gear as demonstrators gathered in the city, mourning Wright’s death. Video posted to Twitter showed police firing gas and a chemical agent at protesters who gathered at the police department Sunday night.

Here’s what we know Monday:

What happened during the Daunte Wright shooting?

Brooklyn Center Police Department said in a statement that officers initiated a traffic stop around 2 p.m. Sunday. The statement did not indicate what the initial stop was for other than “a traffic violation.” Officers then determined that the driver had an outstanding warrant and then tried to take the driver into custody, police said.

The driver re-entered his vehicle, and an officer then shot him, police said. The car drove several more blocks before striking another vehicle. Police said the driver died at the scene, and a woman in the passenger seat was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

No one in the other vehicle was harmed, police said. Officers were also wearing body cameras, which the department said were believed to be activated, as well as dash-board camera.

Daunte’s mom, Katie Wright, told reporters that her son was driving a vehicle the family had given him weeks ago and called her as he was being pulled over with his girlfriend in the car, the New York Times reported.

“He called me at about 1:40, said he was getting pulled over by the police,” she said in a Facebook Live video. “He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.”

The police department said it had asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to conduct an independent investigation.

Mayor Mike Elliott said a news conference would be held Monday morning at Brooklyn Center City Hall.

Tear gas fills the air as people confront police outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Protesters took to the streets today after 20 year old Daunte Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop by members of the Brooklyn Center police.

What happened during the protests in Brooklyn Center?

People gathered in Brooklyn Center shortly after news spread of Wright’s death.

Wright’s family and friends were among those who marched in the streets and carried signs and flags that read “Black Lives Matter.”

According to the Star-Tribune, about 100 people had gathered near the scene where Wright died. Protesters pushed past police tape, confronting officers donning riot gear and breaking the windshields of two police cars. Police fired non-lethal rounds to try to disperse the crowd, the newspaper reported.

At the police department, a large crowd was met with armored police officers who formed a riot line. The protest there had been largely peaceful up until that point.

John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said protesters started throwing rocks and other objects but that the group had mostly dispersed by about 1:15 a.m. Monday.

At the Shingle Creek shopping center, about 20 businesses had been broken into, he said. The Star-Tribune reported that looters targeted a Walmart and destroyed several businesses nearby.

The National Guard was activated, and Elliott ordered a curfew from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday. Elliot said he had been in contact with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

“I am closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center. Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement,” Walz tweeted on Sunday.

“Our hearts are with (Wright’s) family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy,” Elliott said in statement. “While we await additional information from the BCA who is leading the investigation, we continue to ask that members of our community gathering do so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.”

In Minneapolis, photos shared on social media showed people gathering at the site of George Floyd’s death, which has turned into a memorial, and painting “Justice for Daunte Wright” on the street.

Where do things stand in the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis?

Just south of Brooklyn Center in Minneapolis, the third week of testimony in the trial of Chauvin was set to get underway Monday. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020.

After video of Floyd’s death spread last May, widespread protests erupted for several days in Minneapolis as well as cities around the U.S.

The prosecution in the trial is expected to call its final witnesses this week, starting with another doctor. Last week, experts and police officials testified for the prosecution about proper use of force, and medical professionals testified about how Floyd died.

Contributing: Grace Hauck and N’dea Yancey-Bragg

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